The Backyard Bird Chronicles (Book)

The Backyard Bird Chronicles By Amy Tan, David Allen Sibley (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Backyard Bird Chronicles (Book)

By Amy Tan, David Allen Sibley (Foreword by)


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A gorgeous, witty account of birding, nature, and the beauty around us that hides in plain sight, written and illustrated by the best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club • With a foreword by David Allen Sibley

“Unexpected and spectacular” —Ann Patchett, best-selling author of These Precious Days

"The drawings and essays in this book do a lot more than just describe the birds. They carry a sense of discovery through observation and drawing, suggest the layers of patterns in the natural world, and emphasize a deep personal connection between the watcher and the watched. The birds that inhabit Amy Tan’s backyard seem a lot like the characters in her novels.” —David Allen Sibley, from the foreword

Tracking the natural beauty that surrounds us, The Backyard Bird Chronicles maps the passage of time through daily entries, thoughtful questions, and beautiful original sketches. With boundless charm and wit, author Amy Tan charts her foray into birding and the natural wonders of the world.

In 2016, Amy Tan grew overwhelmed by the state of the world: Hatred and misinformation became a daily presence on social media, and the country felt more divisive than ever. In search of peace, Tan turned toward the natural world just beyond her window and, specifically, the birds visiting her yard. But what began as an attempt to find solace turned into something far greater—an opportunity to savor quiet moments during a volatile time, connect to nature in a meaningful way, and imagine the intricate lives of the birds she admired.
AMY TAN is the author of several novels, including The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter's Daughter. She is a co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club and is on the board of American Bird Conservancy. She lives in Sausalito, California.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593536131
ISBN-10: 0593536134
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
“Tan is a tremendously charming emissary from the world of birding . . . [Her] curiosity, along with a sharp eye and a novelist’s penchant for narrative, has been channeled into an absorbing, quirky book of days focused on the avian ecosystem Tan has established in her Sausalito backyard . . . The intensity of Tan’s love for her visitors makes The Backyard Bird Chronicles an unexpectedly moving account regardless of your level of interest in bird-watching. Because while the book is about goldencrowned sparrows and Cooper’s hawks and hummingbirds, it’s also a book about survival, adaptation, and chance.”
—Francie Lin, The Boston Globe

“Tan’s observations of her avian guests, recorded in journal form, are both entertaining and informative. And the drawings that illustrate her musings are remarkable . . . Like the early naturalists, Tan learns by watching, bringing no preconceptions, and it’s a pleasure to sit with her as she observes and accumulates knowledge. She takes careful notes, she sketches what she sees and she tries to draw conclusions . . . Fun, messy spontaneity, it turns out, can make for an awfully good book.”
—Sue Horton, Los Angeles Times

“Moving . . . Through diary entries, original sketches and questions to spark readers’ own introspection, this is a heartfelt look at the impact of the natural world—for those who take the time to look outside.”
People Magazine

“Charming . . . Tan delivers a journal of birdwatching that’s filled with sketches, casual observations, and the delight of having a hummingbird feed out of your hand. Writers observe and Tan does that beautifully, encouraging you to pause, look around and observe as well. Not just for birders.”
Parade Magazine

“Delightful . . . Tan’s lovely graphite and colored pencil drawings reveal yet another side of the multitalented author . . . Her depictions of their habits and foibles are laced with considerable wit . . . Her bird chronicles are fun, too — and informative.”
—Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times

“Much of great writing comes from great interest, and in The Backyard Bird Chronicles, Amy Tan shows us how the world fascinates her, especially the birds. The result is both unexpected and spectacular.”
—Ann Patchett, author of These Precious Days
“What an enchanting and illuminating book! How lucky for us that Amy Tan has turned her genius, her deep empathy and insight, her keen eye for what is telling, to birds. Every page of these chronicles radiates warm curiosity, wonder, and delight.”
—Jennifer Ackerman, The Genius of Birds

“This is one of the most infectious and convincing books about nature I’ve read. For the bird-watcher, the would-be bird-watcher, or for the bird-watching skeptic, this offers great delight and unexpected intrigue. Through Tan’s ecstatic eyes, what could be a dry treatise on ornithological happenings becomes something far more fun and much more profound. It’s really a book about seeing.” 
—Dave Eggers, author of Ungrateful Mammals

“Anybody even mildly interested in birds, or thinking about getting interested in birds (which are, after all, the indicator genus for the health of the planet), will want this book perched on their shelf, if only for the gift of Amy Tan’s eye and the example she gives us of how to pay attention. What a treasure.”
—Robert Hass, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of Summer Snow: New Poems

Backyard Bird Chronicles is fun reading. It shows how we can become engaged emotionally, literally and artistically with the natural world—to joyfully learn about the most accessible and yet wild animals, the often rare and beautiful birds that choose to come and live near and sometimes with us.”
—Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

“With this book as your guide, embark into the bird world Amy Tan. This is an intimate view, a sort-of love affair with the birds and their behavior, that Amy has come to know over several years. Within the leafy universe of her own backyard, she has quietly beheld, patiently observed, and taken in-depth notations of an extensive array of bird species. In colorful detail, she describes various bird’s behavior, while capturing their beauty in exquisitely rendered illustrations. Species include fearsome predators and watchful prey, long distance migrants and hometown residents. Through her unique insight and gift as an author and artist, Amy exposes a world of intrigue, beauty, even humor about the birds we all share this world with.”
—Keith Hansen, author of Hansen’s Field Guide to Birds of the Sierra Nevada

“Amy Tan’s bird journals can change the way you see the world. They show that stories, mysteries, humor, and beauty are all around us if we take the time to pay attention. They remind us that we never stop learning and growing, and if we put in the work, we can learn and master new skills. These journals invite us to look out of our own windows with fresh eyes and wonder.”
—John Muir Laws, author of The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds

“If you really want to understand something, draw it. That’s the conclusion I’ve reached in witnessing how much Amy Tan has learned about the bird community in her back yard. No matter how much you think you know about birds, you are guaranteed to learn something surprising and inspiring from this charmingly illustrated and creatively-conceived book.”
—Michael J. Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy

“If you promise me a witty birder book—birds as windows on life!!!—then great, and if the great Amy Tan is writing it, even better. The perfect antidote (with illustrations!) to whatever these past few years have been.”
—Lit Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2024”

The Backyard Bird Chronicles is custom-made for [people who love birds], with evocative illustrations and lively narratives . . . Tan's skill in accurately representing her subjects is undeniable . . . Tan's curiosity extends endlessly, so questions abound; some are answerable, others unknowable, but all point readers to a type of attention many long to capture for themselves. Put this book in their hands. It will be loved.”
—Sara Beth West, Shelf Awareness

“At turns engaging, sad, and philosophical, this highly recommended title demonstrates that anyone can be a bird watcher by simply venturing into their own backyard and it encourages readers to be aware of the natural world around them. Fans of Tan’s fiction will love this, but so will most other general readers.”
Library Journal, starred

“A charming bird journey . . . [Tan] fashions her findings into delightful and approachable journal excerpts, accompanied by her gorgeous color sketches . . . An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.”